Activists Confront U.S. Security Associates at Industry Conference...
ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the 57th annual gathering of the American Society for Industrial Security gets underway, two prominent women's groups and the Service Employees International Union are calling on Atlanta-based U.S. Security Associates (USSA) -- the nation's fourth-largest private security firm -- to adopt procedures to rid its worksites of sexual harassment.
"Sexual harassment ruins lives, lowers productivity, and harms businesses," says Marcia D. Greenberger, Co- President, National Women's Law Center. "Today we're calling on U.S. Security Associates to change course and live up to its obligations with respect to this and all forms of discrimination."
USSA, which employs more than 26,000 people in 45 states, has been mired in sexual harassment allegations. After ruling on "Jamie Kohser Marks v. U.S. Security Associates, Inc. and Chris Hargrove" in U.S. District Court in Alabama last October, a judge decried "USSA's cavalier attitude toward sexual harassment" and wrote, "The reprehensible conduct in this case...went all the way up the corporate ladder."
In May USSA agreed to pay $1.95 million and enter into a 42-month consent decree to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of seven USSA employees, including Marks. Since more allegations of sexual harassment have surfaced in Philadelphia, today women's groups and SEIU are calling on USSA to expand the basic provisions of the decree, which covers USSA's Alabama worksites, to all the company's operations while also pledging to respect USSA workers' freedom to form a union without management interference, which will give employees still more protection. The decree requires USSA to revise its policies, provide anti-harassment training, establish a centralized process for tracking complaints, hold managers accountable for eliminating misconduct, and submit reports of their progress.
Studies suggest that in the workplace generally 40-70 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment. According to The New York Times, sexual harassment is most frequent in occupations where women are in the minority. Since women constitute just 20.8 percent of the security workforce, they may be especially vulnerable to harassment.
USSA provides security for well-known clients including ExxonMobil, Kraft Foods, Focus on the Family, Bank of the West, The Denver Zoo, Philadelphia Nursing Home, The Art Institutes, and The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
SOURCE Service Employees International Union